Female Anatomy and Physiology Anth/Soc 390 Sexuality and Gender Issues
External Sex Organs • Pudendum • External female genitals • This word derives from a Latin word that means “something to be ashamed of.” • This sets the tone for negative views of female genitalia. • Vulva • External female sexual structures, which include the mons veneris, the labia majora and minora, the clitoris, and the vaginal opening • Latin for “wrapper” or “covering”
External Sex Organs • The Mons Veneris • Fatty tissue covering the joint of pubic bones below abdomen and above clitoris • Serves as a cushion during intercourse • Covered with pubic hair at puberty • The Labia Majora • Large folds of skin that run downward from the mons along the sides of the vulva • Shields inner genitalia • The Labia Minora • Hairless, light colored membranes located between the labia majora
External Sex Organs • The Clitoris • Female sex organ located above urethral opening • Shaft: body of clitoris, approximately 1 inch long • Corpora cavernosa: Spongy tissue in clitoral shaft that becomes engorged with blood in response to sexual stimulation • Glans: extremely sensitive tip of clitoris, covered by the • Prepuce: Fold of skin covering the glans of the clitoris • Develops from the same embryonic tissue as the penis
External Sex Organs • Clitoridectomy • Surgical removal of the clitoral hood; extreme forms may involve removal of clitoris, labia majora and minora with only a small hole left for urination and menstrual flow • Ritualized genital mutilation considered a “rite of passage” to womanhood in some cultures • The removal of the clitoris is to ensure the girl’s chastity. • In 1996, the U.S. outlawed the practice within its borders.
Types of Female Genital Cutting • TYPE 1: Type Ia, removal of the clitoral hood or prepuce only; Type Ib, removal of the clitoris with the prepuce. • TYPE 2: Type IIa, removal of the labia minora only; Type IIb, partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora; Type IIc, partial or total removal of the clitoris, the labia minora and the labia majora. • TYPE 3: narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and repositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (Infibulation = narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and repositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora) Excision = to remove by cutting
Female journalists forced to strip in Sierra Leone Gulf Times, February 10, 2009 FREETOWN: Four female journalists are in a state of shock after reportedly being attacked, forced to strip and marched through a Sierra Leonean town by a pro-female genital mutilation (FGM) group. Witnesses said the four were accused of reporting on an anti-FGM campaign last Friday, which marked the international day of zero tolerance to female circumcision. The women were allegedly abducted by a pro-FGM group in the eastern city of Kenema, then stripped naked and marched through the streets before police and human rights organisations intervened to set them free. “We are still in a daze,” said one of the victims, who works for the local UN radio. “We had received threatening telephone calls on our lives, that we will be taught a lesson not to report on FGM,” journalist Manja Balama-Samba said. “We were only undertaking a reporting assignment and have no hand in any campaign,” she said. Witnesses said the women were forcibly taken to the forest headquarters of the Bondo society, a secret organisation of women which traditionally carries out female genital mutilation as part of initiation rites. There they were reportedly stripped before being marched into town.Speaking to journalists, the head of the Bondo society, Haja Massah Kaisamba, would not comment on the allegations other than saying the four women were taken into “our custody because they spoke unfavourably on radio against FGM.” For their part police would not say what further steps, if any, they would take. “We believe people should always obey the law,” said police inspector-general Brima Acha Kamara, when asked for a reaction. Secret societies have a lot of influence in Sierra Leone and politicians are reluctant to speak out against FGM, for fear of losing votes. The government said early last year that it would ban the practice, but has done nothing to date. According to UN figures, some 94% of women and girls aged 15 to 49 years in Sierra Leone have undergone circumcision, traditionally believed to control female sexuality and make girls more “marriageable.” The incident was condemned by media organisations and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) called on authorities to investigate it. Women in the Media Sierra Leone (Wimsal) rights group also denounced it as “unacceptable and against the tenets of human rights.” – AFP
External Sex Organs • The Vestibule • “Entranceway” within the labia minora that contains the openings to the vagina and urethra • The Urethral Opening • The opening through which urine passes from the bladder out of the female’s body • Its proximity to external sex organs can pose problems with hygiene because bacteria from the sex organs and from intercourse may enter the urethra: • Cystitis: an inflammation of the urinary bladder, which can cause a kidney infection if left untreated
External Sex Organs • The Vaginal Opening • Introitus • Vaginal opening, larger than urethral opening and lies below it • Hymen • Fold of tissue across vaginal opening • May remain intact until intercourse • Its presence is often considered a sign of virginity
External Sex Organs • The Perineum • Skin and tissue that lies between vaginal opening and anus • Contains many nerve endings and is very sensitive • Episiotomy is a surgical incision that may be made here during childbirth to protect the vagina from tearing.
External Sex Organs • Structures That Underlie the External Sex Organs • Sphincters • Ring-shaped muscles that surround body openings • Crura • Attach clitoris to pubic bone
External Sex Organs • Structures That Underlie the External Sex Organs • Vestibular bulbs • Cavernous structures that extend downward along the sides of the introitus and swell during sexual arousal • Bartholin’s glands • Lie just inside minor lips on each side of the vaginal opening • Secrete a small amount of fluid just before orgasm